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Case Study

NSW Government Maths trains brains

maths trains brains
maths trains brains

In October 2020, the NSW Government and the Department of Education launched a major campaign titled ‘Maths Trains Brains’ which is aimed at changing the perception of maths and encouraging more engagement towards the subject for students from pre-kindy to Year 10.


The campaign was developed by creative and digital agency Bastion Creative with production by Monster Children Films.

As part of a long term and wide-ranging vision for mathematics education within NSW, the campaign aims to create awareness and positive perception surrounding the subject of maths with students, as well as parents and carers.

The approach taken is to reframe maths with parents first, as they are a key influencer to their child’s approach and involvement with maths. The strategic direction for the campaign is to highlight the usefulness of maths education for problem solving across the board, as well as the importance of maths to secure jobs in the future.

Banjo’s Creative Director Ben O’Brien explained: “The jobs of the future, both technical and creative, will require some maths education. So our job was to get a conversation started between parents and kids and make maths feel alive. And even a bit fun.”

“We know that parents’ own maths anxiety is often passed down to their child. Especially when asked for help with maths homework. We needed to help reduce this maths anxiety, and as a result overcome their cognitive bias by reframing maths based on its benefits, which are far reaching.”

NSW Department of Education’s Director of Content and Digital Transformation, Carmen Michael, said the NSW-first Maths Trains Brains campaign aims at involving parents and carers in their children’s mathematics learning, and supporting them to feel more confident in talking with their child about mathematics.

“To help grow students’ proficiency in maths, it is necessary to foster positive attitudes towards maths, which are shown to be a key factor in students’ achievement,” Ms Michael said.

“The statewide digital Maths Trains Brains campaign and online resource hub, Everyday Maths, aim to set the groundwork in engaging parents, carers and students, by providing knowledge and tools to show maths in a positive way.

“For our students, this means being able to notice, wonder and engage with the maths they come across in the world around them; and by exploring the possibilities and opportunities they can experience by learning and studying maths.

“For parents and carers, this highlights the relevancy of maths by showcasing where it is in their everyday life, empowering them to become more involved in their child’s maths education.

“Whether its sports, fashion, music, science, technology, engineering, art or food, a ‘maths trained brain’ can take our students anywhere – now and into the future,” Ms Michael said.

Bastion Banjo’s founding partner Ben Lyttle added; “Our creative approach was to demonstrate the benefits of maths across a broad range of skills, beyond numeracy. And do this in an inspiring way – demonstrating maths being used in surprising and unexpected ways such as music, cooking and sport.”

“We needed to show parents and carers that maths is one of the most important subjects a child can learn, because it is like exercise for the brain. Maths helps to enhance sport decision making, understand music patterns, rhythms and beats, as well as problem solving, critical thinking and more. Building a child’s life skills by training their brains with maths.”

By blending the inspiring and visually impactful shots often seen in sports campaigns with a dynamic soundtrack, a completely digital campaign has been developed consisting of a 60second master video, along with 30 second and 15 second cut-downs, and a number of 6 second videos specifically for social media.

The approach to production was a collaborative one between the Department of Education, Bastion Banjo and production company Monster Children, with all parties playing an intensive hands-on role to get the production just right. This was true from authentic talent sourcing (students and teachers) to real school locations and more, in a way that is very rarely seen when generally working on productions with client.

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